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10 Fascinating Facts About the Buffy Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are incredibly fascinating creatures, with their impressive speed and agility. One of the smallest species of hummingbirds is the Buffy Hummingbird, scientifically known as Leucippus fallax.

These birds are known for their vibrant colors and energetic behavior, which makes them a popular bird to watch. In this article, we will take a closer look at the Buffy Hummingbird, exploring its identification, plumage, and molts, so that you can expand your knowledge on this amazing little bird.


Field Identification

The Buffy Hummingbird is a tiny bird that measures only around 3 inches in length. They have distinctive plumage, with a bright iridescent green upper body and a buff-colored throat and chest.

Males have a more vibrant green color and a brighter buff-colored throat than females. The wings of the Buffy Hummingbird are small and have a blackish-brown coloring.

They have a long, thin bill, which works perfectly for extracting nectar from flowers.

Similar Species

Buffy Hummingbirds can be confused with other species of hummingbirds. For instance, Allen’s Hummingbird is similar in appearance, but it has a reddish-purple gorget (throat patch).

On the other hand, the Green Violetear has a similarly-colored body, but it has a more extensive black patch behind the eye. Therefore, it is essential to look closely at the bird’s unique characteristics before identifying it correctly.


The Buffy Hummingbird has distinctive plumage that is hard to miss. However, like every bird, Buffy Hummingbirds undergo different stages of plumage development throughout their lifespan.


Buffy Hummingbirds experience complete molts once a year. During the molting period, the bird will shed all of its feathers and begin to regenerate new ones.

Juvenile Buffy Hummingbirds’ plumages are almost identical to those of adult females for the first year. However, after their first year, males will start molting into their vibrant green colors and brilliant buff-colored throats that are characteristic of the species.


The Buffy Hummingbird is a wonderful bird to watch, as it is full of energy and vibrant colors. These tiny birds can be identified through their distinctive plumage and unique characteristics.

Their molting period is exciting to witness as they transform from juvenile birds to their adult plumage. We hope that this article has expanded your knowledge on the Buffy Hummingbird, and you can appreciate the beauty of these birds more effectively.

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Systematics History

The Buffy Hummingbird, also known by its scientific name Leucippus fallax, belongs to the family Trochilidae. The taxonomy of this species has undergone changes over the years, with scientists debating its evolutionary history and classification.

Geographic Variation

The Buffy Hummingbird is found primarily in Central America, from Mexico through to Panama. Within this range, the bird exhibits slight geographic variation in terms of their physical appearance, but it is not enough to warrant being classified as separate subspecies.


Despite the variation, only one Buffy Hummingbird subspecies is recognized – Leucippus fallax angelae. The subspecies distinctiveness is still up for debate due to its minor physical differences from the typical species.

Related Species

The Buffy Hummingbird is closely related to other Leucippus species, including the Violet-crowned Hummingbird (Leucippus violiceps), and the Black-chinned Hummingbird (Leucippus fallax). However, genetic analysis suggests that the Buffy Hummingbird is relatively unique compared to its sister taxa.

Historical Changes to Distribution

Historically, the Buffy Hummingbird had a more extensive range than it does today. In the past, they could be found as far north as the southwestern United States, including Arizona and New Mexico.

However, their distribution in these regions has since declined dramatically. One of the reasons behind this decline is the loss of habitat, as agricultural and urban developments have expanded over the years, reducing the species’ available living spaces.

Another factor that led to the decline in its distribution is global warming. The alteration in precipitation patterns brought on by climate change has negatively impacted the native plant species on which the Buffy Hummingbirds rely for survival and reproduction.

The degradation of its primary habitat in Mexico and other regions of Central America has led to a bleak decline in this species, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which has placed it on its Red List of Threatened Species. Furthermore, the Buffy Hummingbird frequently migrates to warmer regions during winter, and decades of deforestation and habitat degradation in these areas have considerably reduced migratory habitat along their routes.

The effects of habitat fragmentation and climate change on migratory birds can hinder the completion of the birds’ migration, which subsequently harms their breeding success. Despite the decline in distribution, efforts to conserve and protect the Buffy Hummingbird have begun yielding positive results.

The species’ small size and attractive colors have made it a favorite among birdwatchers, helping to draw public attention to its conservation needs. Conservation efforts such as developing protected wildlife areas, implementing reforestation events, and overseeing human-caused habitat destruction have helped the species to recover moderately in some regions.


The taxonomy of Buffy Hummingbirds has changed over time, with scientists attempting to accurately classify the species based on various physical and biological attributes. Recent genetic analysis supports its classification as a unique species compared to its sister taxa.

Additionally, their historical range was more expansive than it is today, which has substantially declined due to habitat loss, climate change, and deforestation. Consequently, several conservation efforts have initiated to conserve Buffy Hummingbirds throughout their range.

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The Buffy Hummingbird is commonly found in open and semi-open areas throughout their geographical range, including dry forests, deciduous woodland, and scrublands. They are also known to inhabit gardens and parks within urbanized regions.

Buffy Hummingbirds require a variety of food sources, such as insects and nectar, found in both natural and man-made settings. These birds prefer to breed in areas with abundant flowering vegetation and nesting sites in shrubs or trees.

Movements and Migration

Buffy Hummingbirds are known to frequently make seasonal migrations during which they move between breeding and wintering grounds. They are long-distance migrants, and their wintering range can span from Central Mexico to Central America.

As migratory birds, Buffy Hummingbirds have evolved complex behavioral and physiological adaptations to navigate their large migratory journeys. Hummingbirds have a high metabolic rate, which enables them to sustain enough energy to endure extended periods of flight and cope with the energetic demands of migration.

In the spring, Buffy Hummingbirds initiate their northward migration in search of breeding grounds and food. They can reach relatively low elevations, usually under 6,500 feet above sea level, for a more abundant food supply.

It is during this time that Buffy Hummingbirds breeding activity increases significantly, leading up to the autumnal migration southward to the wintering range. The autumn migration of Buffy Hummingbirds in preparation for wintering typically commences in October and lasts until November.

This period corresponds with the peak of the hummingbirds’ breeding season before the onset of cold weather in their breeding range. The migratory route depends on their home breeding area; those breeding in northern regions, such as Mexico, are expected to travel farther distances to reach their wintering sites in Central America.

Like many migratory birds, a considerable proportion of Buffy Hummingbirds join together in flocks. Unpaired juveniles form the largest part, but adults and paired juveniles may also take part.

The advantage of flocking is to reduce the predation pressure by confusing the predators and increase the foraging welfare of the birds. Human activities play a significant role in shaping Buffy Hummingbird’s migration routes and behavior.

The hummingbird’s migratory routes overlap with urbanized and agricultural areas, where habitat fragmentation and loss can occur due to habitat destruction or due to land use changes. Human activities, including anthropogenic climate change, may also affect the availability and timing of essential food resources, interfering with Buffy Hummingbird’s breeding success and affecting their migratory behavior adversely.


The Buffy Hummingbird relies on a variety of habitats, including open and semi-open areas, woodlands, shrublands, and parks, for survival and reproduction. As migratory birds, they undertake seasonal movements between their breeding and wintering ranges, relying on their behavioral and physiological adaptations to cope with the energetic demands of migration.

The buffering capability of flocking behavior and vital food sources is essential for their long distance flights. Human-induced activities such as urbanization, land-use change, habitat loss, and changes in resources availability, pose threats to the Buffy Hummingbirds’ survival.

Conservation efforts that aim to protect and restore the hummingbird’s habitat along its migratory route are crucial. These conservation initiatives will aid in preserving biodiversity and contribute to a healthier environment.

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Diet and Foraging


Buffy Hummingbirds have a high metabolism rate due to their small size, which necessitates high food intake throughout the day. The birds’ small size and high energy demand require frequent feedings to survive.

Therefore, they spend the majority of their day foraging for nutrient-dense food sources. To achieve this, they must consume more than twice their body weight in nectar and insects per day.

Buffy Hummingbirds are able to remain in hovering flight while feeding, allowing them to consume nectar from flowers or insect prey passing near while foraging. They also have the unique ability to hover in front of stationary objects such as fruits, and leaves while feeding.


Their primary food source is nectar which is produced by a variety of flowering plants. In addition to nectar, Buffy Hummingbirds will also feed on insects for their protein intake.

They feed on small insects such as fruit flies, gnats, and mosquitos. Hummingbirds have a specialized tongue that they use to reach deep into flowers to extract nectar.

The tongue is a series of long tubes, which unfurl like a brush onto the nectar.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Buffy Hummingbirds have a unique metabolism that allows them to maintain their high energy levels needed for flight. They have a high heart rate and elevated body temperature for their small frames, and both of these factors contribute to their high metabolism.

Hummingbirds have a unique ability to enter into a semi-hibernation state, called torpor, where their heart rate and body temperature drop significantly, saving metabolic energy.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Buffy Hummingbirds do not have a song, but males make a soft, buzz-like sound during territorial disputes or courtship. The sound is generated by their rapid wing movements, as the bird beats its wings around 70 times per second.

In addition to the sound generated by their wings, Buffy Hummingbirds also make a variety of vocalizations to communicate with other birds and to attract a mate.

Buffy Hummingbirds use several distinct calls, including a high-pitched “tseep” sound, a sharp “chit” alarm call, and a series of clicks or chatters.

Males also produce a distinctive “chip” or “tsip” sound during their courtship displays, which accompanies their acrobatic flight displays. Females do not vocalize as often, making various soft chirping sounds during courtship.

Communication through vocalizations with potential mates is crucial in breeding, allowing Buffy Hummingbirds to successfully mate and reproduce. The ability to understand and respond to vocal cues is essential for hummingbirds, as it allows them to communicate their readiness to breed.


Buffy Hummingbirds are well adapted to their unique diet and use foraging techniques that enable them to extract nectar from flowers and feed on insects in their environment. Their rapid metabolism and the ability to enter into torpor to conserve energy makes them perfectly suited to their highly active lifestyles.

Buffy Hummingbirds communicate vocally, with males producing distinctive vocalizations during their courtship and territorial displays, while females vocalize quietly in response. Through the study of their foraging behaviors and vocalizations, we can gain a deeper understanding of Buffy Hummingbirds and their distinctive adaptations that allow them to thrive in their environment.

of knowledge article, as the purpose is to provide readers with informative content.



Buffy Hummingbirds have several unique adaptations to aid them during flight. Their wings are designed with a unique joint that allows them to rotate their wings 180 degrees, which enables them to fly in all directions.

They also have the ability to fly in a stationary position using a figure-eight shaped wing motion and hover in mid-air while maintaining a stable position, which is essential in their foraging. Self Maintenance

Buffy Hummingbirds are fastidious creatures, taking great care in maintaining their feathers and other physical needs.

They clean their feathers daily with their beaks, using a specialized oil secretion from a gland located at the base of their tail feathers. This oil is crucial in maintaining the structure and water-repellency of their feathers.

Additionally, they use dust bathing as a way to clean their feathers and remove excess oil buildup from their plumage. Dust bathing helps prevent feather degradation, as it removes the grit, dust, and other debris that can cause friction on their feathers during flight.

Agonistic and Sexual Behavior

Buffy Hummingbirds are territorial by nature, and during the breeding season, males become more aggressive in their quest for a mate. Aggressive interactions between males can arise during bouts of fencing, where they fly in and out of each other’s territories, sometimes leading to fights.

Buffy Hummingbirds also display aerial displays during courtship, which involves their distinctive vocalizations and acrobatic aerial feats.

Males perform an elaborate courtship display, which involves them rising and falling in flight while singing.

Courtship starts with males performing a series of dives while emitting a high-pitched whistle. Once successful in winning a female, the female prepares a nest for egg-laying, and both parents take on the responsibility for parenting, with males more involved in territory defense around the nest.


Buffy Hummingbirds typically breed from February through to July, peaking in breeding activity between May and June, coinciding with the availability of flowers. Males initiate courtship by pursuing and performing aerial displays to females, with males aiming to showcase key fitness traits such as speed, agility, and perseverance.

Upon successful courtship, a female builds a small cup-shaped nest constructed from lichens, feathers, and spider silk for support. The final nesting site is located on a thin branch or stalk and is blended perfectly into the surrounding foliage.

Buffy Hummingbirds lay two pea-sized white eggs, with the female taking on the brunt of incubation duty while the male guards the nest’s perimeter.

Demography and Populations

Buffy Hummingbird populations have generally experienced declines over the past few years, but conservation efforts have helped to stabilize and increase some populations, mainly where proper habitat is preserved and the species is given legal protection.

Reproductive success can have a significant impact on the Buffy Hummingbird’s population demographics.

They typically have low reproductive success, with predation and other environmental factors impacting their survivability. Several conservation initiatives focus on breeding monitoring, habitat protection, and reducing the use of harmful pesticides in the region.


Buffy Hummingbirds are fascinating in their behavior and unique adaptations for survival. Their flight adaptation and foraging behavior optimize their energy expenditure, which is necessary to maintain their high levels of metabolism.

Additionally, they employ several behaviors such as vocalization during courtship, dust bathing, and oiling to maintain their plumage and physical health. Buffy Hummingbirds breeding success is vital, with demographical activities swayed by reproduction success and associated with habitat loss and predation.

Consequently, conservation efforts that address habitat protection and reduction of environmental threats are essential to the species’ long-term survival. Throughout this article, we have explored various aspects of the Buffy Hummingbird’s biology, behavior, and ecology.

We have examined its unique adaptations for flight, feeding, and vocalization. Additionally, we explored their breeding habits, sexual behavior, and demography, leading to a greater understanding of the species’ biology and behavior.

The Buffy Hummingbird is one of the smallest of all hummingbirds, yet they possess remarkable adaptations that enable their survival in their environment. Although human activities and other threats have had devastating effects on their populations, conservation efforts implemented to protect their habitats can help ensure the preservation of this remarkable species for future generations.

The Buffy Hummingbird is a species that deserves further attention and research, as their unique biology and behavior provide valuable contributions to the understanding of bird and animal biology.

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